If you listen to a full day of debate in the Iowa Legislature, you might be shocked by what you hear. Lawmakers don’t use profanity during their debates, but they do abuse the English language, so much so that statehouse reporters are keeping a running list of nominees for the “English as a second language” award. Senator Ken Veenstra of Orange City is nominated for saying that a budget bill gives the Department of Human Services more “levity.” Veenstra says he probably should have used the word flexibility. Levity means jocular, a dose of humor. Veenstra says the legislature could probably use a little levity.But Senator Thomas Fiegen of Clarence gets the award for his remarks during debate on a bill that would have required voters to show a photo id at the polls. Fiegen was trying to make the point that some poor people couldn’t afford a driver’s license, and he said, quote, “some Iowans aren’t as well-endowed as others.” When told what he’d said, Fiegen’s face turned red. He says he was speaking in economic terms, that when people have endowments, they’re better off.Other nominees include Representative Russell Teig of Jewell who sometimes can’t get his subject and verb to agree. He said “over 30 years of breeding and productivity had went into these expensive animals” while talking about a bill involving ecoterrorists. He shouldn’t have said “had went.” And Representative Russ Eddie of Storm Lake uttered a bad sentence, when he was talking about his days as a teacher. He said he was fortunate to have a high school principal that served as his mentor and said, “Thank God because there was days when I was in front of the class when I wondered if the kids didn’t know more than I did.Eddie should have said there were days. And finally, sometimes lawmakers get a little tired and say things they don’t mean.Representative Bill Dix of Shellrock said “high density” television when he probably meant to say high definition television.
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